How Natives Cut and Connect Words in English: Simple Past (w/ Video)

Here’s a short but powerful lesson from RealLife TV on how native speakers cut and connect their words in the simple past. This is called connected speech. In this lesson, I explain why sentences like “what did you do” become “wha-dju do” in both formal and informal American English.

Not only will this lesson improve your listening comprehension, but you can use it to learn the rhythm of flow of native speech and dramatically improve your pronunciation.

Video Transcript

Aww yeah! Welcome to another episode of Real Life TV.

Today I’m excited to teach you about connected speech and how we use this in the simple past with the auxiliary verb DID. So stay tuned and relax, have fun.

The Lesson

So, to start, I’m going to ask you a few questions and I want you to listen to my pronunciation and to compare it to what you’ve learned and to what you expect from native speakers.

So, what did you do today? Where did you go? Who did you hang out with today? (normal American speaking rhythm)

If you’ve noticed, I’m cutting my words. I’m bringing them together, I’m morphing them, I’m linking them, I’m shrinking them. So, this is what we call CONNECTED SPEECH.

So, contrary to what you might believe, this is how native speakers really speak. In standard American English, what I’m using right now, other countries do this, other dialects of English have other forms of doing it. But it’s common in all languages and there’re different degrees of it in English, in American English.

So, I’m going to teach you the degrees of connected speech using past tense with the auxiliary verb DID. For exemple, what did you do today?, which is speaking very slowly.

How Native Speakers Cut Their Words

So, to be honest, I never really say “what did you do today?” That seems very unnatural to me, because you are separating the words, they don’t come together, they don’t flow.

So, I’ve noticed in my teaching and in my language learning that the more that I pay attention to the way I speak in natural situations, both formal and informal, I notice that I mix my words, I cut them, I shrink them, and the “what did you do today?”  becomes “wha-did you do today?” on the first level of connected speech. And the more natural, the more relaxed I feel, it becomes “wha-di-ju do doday?

Notice how the “wha-di-ju do doday”. The reason for this on the today is because we use the American T Between two Vowels. Check out that video if you want to learn more about that.

And we can take this even a step further and say “wha-ju do-doday?”. “Wha-ju do-doday?

So, as I mentioned earlier, there are different degrees of connected speech. Depending on how slowly the person is speaking, how much emphasis they’re giving and if they’re speaking to an English learner. Often they’ll speak slower to English learners, but if they’re speaking naturally, they’ll often say “wha-ju do-doday?

Connected Speech and Past Tense Question Words

You don’t need to speak like this, but it’s important to be able to understand.

So, I use the question words to teach this. So, you have who, what, when, where, why, how, which. And this applies the same way with you.

Did You = “Di-ju” and “Dju”

So: “who dju,” “where dju,” “why-dju,” “how dju,” “when dju,” “which dju.”

Did I

Now, this isn’t so strong with the I. When I say “who did I”, because you can’t really contract that. You can’t really morph that very easily. But it’s “who did I,” “where did I,” “when did I,” “wha-did I,” “how did I,” “which did I.”

He = “Did-e”

It’s a little bit different with he, because we take off the “h” on he or many of these words. So, for example, “who did-e,” “where did-e,” “when did-e,” “why did-e,” “how did-e,” “which did-e.”

Did She

With she, it’s pretty simple. “Who did she,” “when did she,” “where did she,” “why did she,” “how did she.” 

Did We = “Di-we”

Now let’s move on to the we“Who di-we,” “when di-we,” “where di-we,” “wha-di-we,” “why di-we,” “which di-we.”

Did They = “Di-they”

And, finally, they“Who di-they,” “why di-they,” “where di-they,”  “how di-they,” “wha-di-they,” “which di-they.” 

past tenseOk, now that you’ve had a chance to tune your ears to connected speech and the way that we use it in the past tense with did, I encourage you to pay attention to it in media, when you speak with your friends, with native speakers, when you watch TV, movies, with music, and play around with it. See if you can imitate natives, see if you can really try to emulate the rhythm and flow of the english language because it will really make your English much more flexible and feel a lot more natural.

But, thank you for being here today, for watching this video, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you want to get more videos like this, we’ll be happy to share them with you.

Thank you very much, take care!

  • Very helpful! And it's so important to sound more natural.Thanks a lot for one more great lesson!

  • Miriam Funes says:

    Excellent video and explanation!!. Thank you.

  • Thank you! It is very helpful!!

  • Luz Mery says:

    great information, I like it so much, because any course teach us something like this. The other hand, I hope that some day I can practice with somebody my speaking, because my tongue is too lazy

  • Hey Guy, I really appreciate your comment. Sorry it took me so long to reply. Great feedback. We'll have lots of great stuff coming soon. You should check out our Connected Speech Podcast Lesson! (Top right hand of the page)

  • Hey Guy, I really appreciate your comment. Sorry it took me so long to reply. Great feedback. We'll have lots of great stuff coming soon. You should check out our Connected Speech Podcast Lesson! (Top right hand of the page)

  • I'm glad it was helpful, Tamie! Thank you for reading and saying hi!

  • I'm glad it was helpful, Tamie! Thank you for reading and saying hi!

  • Thanks for reading and commenting Miriam!

  • Hey Luz I'm glad you enjoyed it. You should check out the connected speech podcast lesson (under the podcasts page on the tab). If you liked this lesson you'll love our podcast!

  • Luz Mery says:

    I was listening this podcast all the last week and I learnt a lot of vocabulary, and something pronunciation, is a really good technique. Thank you so much

  • Thank you very much it's very useful that's all new for me but now got it.